Altogether, about half of the country's workers admit to stealing something from their employers, including cash, computer equipment and even furniture. Some 55 per cent of men admitted pilfering, against 37 per cent of women.
While more than six out of 10 of those in the "AB" social classes say they have stolen things from work, just three in 10 of the Ds and Es admit to it, according to a NOP poll for Personnel Today magazine.
While the survey suggests managers may be more honest about their dishonesty, it is more likely they have greater access to things they can steal and they face far less severe punishment than underlings if caught: instant dismissal is normally the penalty on the shopfloor. More than three out of five of those surveyed said they turned a blind eye to theft provided the items concerned were of low value.
Senior human resource managers said it was virtually impossible to stop employees helping themselves. Often it was a waste of resources to try to stop theft, as much of it involved items such as pens.
More than half the 1,000 respondents said they knew colleagues who pretended to be sick and 27 per cent thought it was acceptable. Two- thirds said colleagues often failed to do anything "productive".